How to join the motorway

When you join the motorway you’ll probably have approached from a slip road where you’ll need to accelerate so your vehicle’s speed matches that of the traffic on the motorway.

You can join the motorway in two ways.

Firstly, you can find that the road you are on eventually turns into a motorway and the only thing you have to do is keep driving along.

Signs warning you of this will be present well before this change occurs. Of course, if you don’t want the motorway, you will have to turn off in good time.

Or, you can join the motorway at a slip road which will take you to the motorway where you will see the relevant signage showing you the way.

The easiest way to join the motorway is when the main road becomes a motorway – you really don’t need to do anything different except perhaps increase in your speed.

Joining the motorway from a slip road

The slip road seems to be the most common way to enter the motorway and this means you have to match your vehicle’s speed with the speed of the traffic on the motorway.

You must give priority to the traffic already on the motorway, and you must never cross from the slip road and go directly into either the second or third lanes, stay in the first lane for a while until you’ve adjusted to the traffic, then you can make your planned move into the lanes to the right, should you need to.

Things to remember when joining the motorway:

  • Give priority to traffic on the motorway.
  • Assess and adjust your speed to match traffic already on the motorway.
  • Use your mirror signal manoeuvre routine.
  • Take a quick sideways glance to see if it is ok to proceed and to check the position of others.
  • Try to avoid having to stop at the end of the slip road, unless the traffic on the motorway is moving very slowly.
  • Indicate your intention to join the motorway, with a good long signal.
  • Never force yourself into the motorway; there lies danger, but try to merge into the traffic.
  • Never use the hard shoulder as a slip road.

As you drive along the motorway you will see the exit slip road, which will indicate to you the presence of other motorists wanting to join the motorway.

You can help potential traffic entering the motorway by carefully moving over from the left-hand lane to the middle lane. This will help them join more safely.

If this is impossible due to heavy traffic in the other lanes, try to adjust your speed to allow the joining traffic some space. Never get into a race with them. Look well ahead and see what vehicles are joining and how they are spaced, and consider adjusting your speed.

Occasionally, you will be required to join the motorway from a slip road on the right. This is a difficult situation must be handled very carefully.

The motorway speed

Traffic on motorways travels at higher speeds than normal roads because mostly there are no bends, no junctions, roundabouts or steep hills, traffic lights or pedestrians.

However, because of the speeds involved, you have to give yourself greater margins and bigger spaces.

You may sometimes see signage telling you to travel no less than a certain amount – a minimum speed limit. Obey these signs. They are there for a reason!

For more information about motorway driving, read our other blogs on the subject including: how to safely leave the motorwaymotorway advice for new driversmotorway signs and signals so be sure to read these too! 

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